Memorial Day Services: A time to remember and honor American veterans

by Louise H. McGregor, staff writer

Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors the living and deceased men and women who served in the U.S. military service branches.

And, that is what veterans and residents in and around the Deer River area did on May 25, starting with a service that was held at the Essentia Health-Deer River Homestead Living and Rehabilitation Center.

There the ceremony honored the residents of the Center, Reuben Goggleye, Arvo Maki, Sarah Guy, Donald Hemphill, Robert Alajoki, James Wilson and Kenneth “Red” Grife and remembered veterans who had passed away since the previous Memorial Day service, Leland Nyberg, Delmar Andrist, William Snow, John Payne, Robert Lyons, William Tucker, Lloyd Styrwoll, Marvin “Bud” Tibbetts and Ben Hartsock.

Serving as the emcee for the ceremony was Deer River Honor Guard Commander Dave Daigle. The speaker was Itasca County Veterans Service Officer Hugh Quinn and conducting the service at Homestead and the cemeteries visited by those who took part in the ceremony at Homestead was Paster Lee Pederson.

The crew had a full wet day ahead of them as they made their way to the Pine Ridge, Olivet, Ball Club, Tibbetts, Town Site, Fairbanks, Tuttle, George Johnson Memorial Cemeteries and Winnie Dam to honor and remember the deceased veterans.

Daigle opened the ceremony at homestead by welcoming everyone. He then introduced Pederson, who offered the opening prayer.

After which Daigle had this to say, “This day, Memorial Day, is sacred because of the almost visible presence of those who have gone before us. Today, we gather to honor the memory of those who gave their lives for our country. Today, especially, is the day to set aside some time to honor those heros from all of those wars, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Afghanistan. They gave their lives so that all of us could enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted….By their service in the land, in the air or at sea, they have made us their debtors, for the flag of our nation still flies over free peoples. The ceremonies today deepens our reverence for our veterans. Today also we should deepen our reverence for our country and its flag. Let us resolve by word and deed to emphasize the privileges and duty of our patriotism.”

Daigle then introduced Quinn. “I am humbled to be able to speak at your Memorial Day Service. Today is a tough day for many as they think about their loved ones who are gone,” said Quinn.

Quinn then went on to say, “On April 8, 2015 Specialist John Dawson of Whittensville, Mass. was killed by small arms fire in Afghanistan. His death, having been killed in action, went largely un-noticed.

“The nation is still at war, this is not Gettysburg, it’s not Normandy, it is not the Tet Offensive, yet, this one soldier, Specialist Dawson, should hold the same significance for us.

“For those of us assembled here today, the meaning is not lost. We understand that whether it’s 10,000 soldiers, 100 soldiers or one soldier, American blood continues to be shed on foreign battlefields so that we are free and safe here at home.

“In a world of two minutes, make it fast and move to the next sound bite world of Fox, CNN and MSNBC all blew past this young man’s death and on to the riveting story of Bruce Jenner’s sex change so fast that most of America didn’t have time to register what they had just witnessed and sometimes I wonder, if they even cared.

“We here today understand that Dawson’s death is a reminder that we are still at war and his death will most likely not be the last.

“There is a light in all of this darkness. Dawson’s light, like his brothers and sisters at war, shines as a terrifying beacon to those who would do us harm, ISIS, Al Qaida, Taliban, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups that seek to destroy us for our beliefs of Freedom and Equality for all. In this war of ideologies, Dawson’s light shines brightly upon the strength of this Nation. While many would see the loss of one single American soldier as inconsequential, I tell you that his death is significant. In a war where our cowardly enemies rarely stand to fight, instead preferring to use roadside bombs and suicide efforts and infiltration of Afghanistan forces that the U.S. military has trained, soldiers like Dawson go down fighting with their fingers in the trigger wells, raining hell on those who wish to do us harm. This kind of courage, of those with the brave hearts like Dawson, strikes fear into the souls of the enemy and in the friends of our enemies.

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